by Joshua Falken
Thanks to BenRG for beta-read and edit this chapter :-)
Author's note: Osteogenesis Imperfecta is an Alternate Universe fic, where Ash has the disease of the title. Also, this genetic disorder is real, it really exists. For more info, access http://www.oif.org
Now, the long-waited chapter 12! :-)
Chapter 12 - Medical Historical
Northern Lights Gym
July 12, 2063
In her Pokémon Gym on Mandarin Island, an auburn-haired woman watched as the sun dipped below the line of the horizon formed by the vast Pacific Ocean. The contrast of red, blue and the white of the snow around her were something that she always found incredibly beautiful.
Lorelei Prima Taylor pulled the red jacket she received when she was appointed as one of the Elite Four over her shoulders. A cold wind began to blow down from the mountains at the northern end of the island. She took a glance to the north and saw part of what was the pride of UN Govering Council and was justly described as one of the wonders of the modern world: The Lugia Bridge. Lorelei would not have been surprised if someone told her that the bridge was visible from orbit. The huge bridge was 225 kilometres in length with 6,500-metre tall suspension towers and a central span approximately 45 kilometres long.
To see this astounding creation, you could not help but think of the creator. That strange, mild, unpretentious woman that Lorelei had met just over a week ago...
Viridian City Central Station
July 2, 2063
"It's nice to meet you. I am Delilah Ketchum." The engineer smiled and extended her hand.
The two Trainers had returned the greeting while studying their companion with unabashed curiosity. So... this was Ash Ketchum's mother?
"Last Call for the Indigo-Johto Express! Last call..." a voice announced over the tannoy.
"Lorelei, I can't miss this train." Luana Scanlon whispered to her friend, excusing herself.
"Ok, Luana. Look, you go ahead. I want to talk to Mrs. Ketchum for a while."
As Luana walked off to the platform, she couldn't help but look back at the two women sitting at the small table. When you saw them from a distance, Lorelei and Delilah looked quite similar. It was not a specific detail, such as the shape of eyes or nose, it was their whole posture and body shape...
"I must apologise, Trainer Taylor." Delilah said in a quiet tone of voice. "I'm afraid that my problems have made you miss your train."
"You can call me Lorelei," the water/ice-type trainer replied with a smile, "and everything is fine, Mrs. Ketchum." Lorelei reached out to touch the back of the hand of the woman in the elegant black business clothes. For some reason, she felt that she should help the other woman. "Mrs. Ketchum, are you okay?"
"Y... yes..." Delilah replied with an embarrassed smile. "I just don't feel very good about travelling on trains..."
The other woman raised her eyebrows. 'That is an understatement!' she thought. She remained in silence while the engineer recomposed herself. "If you don't mind me asking, Mrs. Ketchum," Lorelei said quietly, "if you don't like travelling by train, why did you want to take the Indigo-Johto Express?"
Delilah closed her eyes for one moment. "It is because I was summoned for an urgent meeting concerning my work and they gave me rail passage to Goldenrod City."
"I understand," Lorelei said. She grinned as her irrepressible sense of humour came to the fore. "Maybe you should take an aeroplane, if you feel uncomfortable."
"Yeah, you are right," Delilah replied with a sigh and a rueful laugh. "I don't even know why I tried to catch the train!" she sighed.
Later, Lorelei and Delilah shared the cost of a cab to Viridian City Airport, at the Trainer's insistence. Along the way, they talked about how Ash's medical treatment was progressing. Lorelei was happy to know that the cheerful boy's recovery was progressing so well.
Delilah got out of the cab, carrying her suitcase. "Lorelei, thank you."
Still in the vehicle, the member of the Elite Four answered. "You are welcome. If I can help, just tell me."
The cab left. The engineer turned back to the brightly-lit terminal building of the airport and she walked in.
Northern Lights Gym
July 12, 2063
The Leader of the Northern Lights Gym walked around the fighting area's central pool. She smiled as Cloyster and Dewgong leaned out to greet her in their cheerful voices. Lorelei Taylor thought of all the feelings that her brief meeting with Ash's mother had provoked in her. Seeing the woman so vulnerable and afraid made her feel obliged to help her, to help her calm down. That disturbed her, because all her friends would rightly claim that she could sometimes be as cold as the ice-type Pokémon that she trained. Lorelei wanted to know why she cared so much about Delilah Ketchum.
Physical attraction was something that Lorelei could discard immediately. It wasn't beyond the bounds of possibility, of course, but Lorelei was pretty sure about her sexual orientation by this point of her life. She smiled slightly as she thought of Koga Himura of Fuchsia City's Soul Gym.
Could she be trying to show solidarity for the hospitalised Ash Ketchum by helping his mother? Well, sympathy and a cup of coffee was one thing, but sharing the cost of a cab ride to the airport was something different. Why go so far?
Could it be that she felt a kind of empathy with the famous engineer? After all, in her own way, she felt a lot of discomfort about train journeys. However, Lorelei wasn't convinced that this was the complete story. There was a connection between them, somehow, in some way that she couldn't define. Although this was their first meeting, Lorelei was sure that she knew Delilah Ketchum, somehow.
There was one feeling that Lorelei felt for Ash's mother that she understood immediately: Envy. Envy of someone who knew her own past with certainty. Without any conscious decision on her part, she pulled back her left glove and her left sleeve to reveal her one tenuous link to her past: A dented chromium-plated identity bracelet with only one word readable: the name 'Taylor'. As famous as she was now, this formed a weak link to a past of which she knew nothing.
She had no parents, no family (beyond Koga's gruff kindness) and no background. All they knew was that they pulled her from the aftermath of the avalanche in the Icy Mountains, comatose and her clothes torn to ribbons, some sixteen years ago. She had a great natural ability as a Pokémon Trainer, and the name 'Taylor' was somehow connected to her. And that was all she knew. Even her name, "Lorelei Taylor", had been a creation of the Security Police. It sounded better than 'Jane Doe'. Not knowing who you really are... was unbearable...
Viridian City General Hospital
July 19, 2063
"Oh! It is great to have that mask finally off of my face!" Ash exclaimed with boundless happiness. On the bed, Pikachu and Chikorita were radiant with joy, barely able to resist hugging their Trainer's face.
"Yes Ash, it is good." Misty complained good-naturally. "Just don't exaggerate, alright?"
Ash's friends and family were celebrating the fact that Ash's nanotherapy had completed the reconstruction of the bones of his cranium and neck. Therefore, he could stop using the orthopaedical devices that had hidden his face from view. After having his face hidden by strips and metal for over a month, the sensation of freedom was overwhelming. Meanwhile, Dr. Brenda Wiggins was examining her young patient.
Sitting down in a corner of the room, Delilah Ketchum smiled, happy for Ash's recovery. It was true that her son still had a long road before being totally cured, but even so... Delilah's laptop computer bleeped as it completed downloading the data that she had requested from her main office PC.
Ash watched while his mother typed in the computer. He never thought that he would be happy for his mother to be summoned to work on a UN special project, but as that helped to distract her from his current condition, Ash was grateful for the summons. He smiled as he saw the light shining in his mother's eyes. Whatever the project was, it had certainly tapped her boundless enthusiasm. He hadn't seen her look so alive since the ending of the construction of the Lugia Bridge two years ago...
In that moment, Melody Intrilligator entered in the room. The girl from Shamuti Island smiled when seeing Ash's face, free from metal... at least visible metal, she reminded herself. Within his bones there were titanium templates controlling the growth of his bones... "Good morning, Ash. How are you?" Melody asked gently.
"I'm much better, thank you!" He said smiling. Ash, typically unaware of the subtleties of life, didn't even notice the way with that Melody looked at him. But Misty noticed immediately.
"And you, Melody? Some news from your sister?" The Gym Leader of Cerulean City's Cascade Gym asked in an attempt to distract the girl from Shamuti Island and make her move her eyes from Misty's "friend" (Misty still wasn't ready to admit that Ash was more than that...).
The three began to talk until a technician knocked on the door and told them that it was time for one of Ash's exams. Melody and Misty had left the room, while the technician, under Dr. Wiggins' supervision prepared the ecodopplercardiogram (EDCG) machine to examine the Pokémon Trainer's heart. Dr. Wiggins went back to Delilah.
"Delilah, could you leave for an while, please?"
"I understand." A little reluctant, she rose and walked out into the corridor. Delilah sat down in a chair and Pikachu jumped into her lap.
Delilah Ketchum smiled at small electric Pokémon before fatigue forced her eyes to close.
IndigoRail Express 177
Between Saffron City and Vermilion City
August 23, 2024
"Delia, Milly, stay close to me!" The tall, red-haired man in an airline pilot's uniform ordered the two small girls who were accompanying him on this trip. "Don't let go of my hand!"
Captain Ethan Robin Ketchum held the hands of his daughters, Delilah and Millicent, as firmly as he could. He didn't want lose them in the crowded Saffron City Train Station. "Daddy! Where is Mommy?" Delilah asked as loudly as she could.
"Delia, I already told you." the pilot implored. "Your mother is in Vermilion City, because your grandfather is sick and she needs to take care of him." He expected that his wife's, Audrey, father was better by now. "We're taking the train to meet her!" He sometimes thought that flying an airliner full of passengers during a category-6 storm was easier than being a father...
"Last call for Train 177 Viridian City-Vermilion City line!"
"That is our train! Let's go!"
Little Delilah (or 'Delia' to her parents) stayed alongside her father until they were inside the train carriage. They would be travelling on a Magnetic Levitation or 'MagLev' train, which was standard for transcontinental rail travel in this early part of the 21st Century.
"Okay, let's see..." Ethan Ketchum checked the seat reservations on the tickets. "Millicent, you sit down here in this chair on the other side of the corridor, Delilah sits down here and I sit down here."
During the entire way, the twin sisters played together while their father rested. Until that he looked at the window and noticed that the train was travelling too fast, even for one of these modern machines... Before he could say anything to anybody, the train began to vibrate due to acceleration. In the pilot's mind, a documentary he saw about the original Shinkansen bullet train that he once saw began to replay itself. The part about the "fish-tail oscillation" phenomenon that could derail a train was particularly clear in his mind's eyes.
"Delilah! Millicent! Put your seatbelts and be stay in your seats!" The two girls obeyed. They got scared when seeing that their father was worried.
After checking his daughters, Ethan held on firmly to his chair. He felt that the vibration increased vastly... He could hear the train's air horn blowing even through the double-glazed windows.
Viridian City General Hospital
Seventh floor corridor
July 19, 2063
The rocking of the train coincided with the rocking caused by Misty's shaking Delilah by the arm. "Mrs. Ketchum, WAKE UP!" Misty exclaimed to the sleeping woman.
"You were having a nightmare." Melody explained. "Are you ok?"
"Yes, now I am." She hadn't had that nightmare about the train accident for decades! "Don't worry."
Still uncertain, the two girls sat down on the other side of the corridor. After a moment Melody spoke quietly to Misty. "Is she under a lot of pressure, it is not?"
Misty nodded, too worried to be angry at Melody for saying something like that. "I hope now she can relax a little now that Ash is out of critical condition..."
"I understand. What about you, Misty? Have to told Ash about how you feel yet?"
"What do you mean?" a shocked Misty asked, stuttering and trying to buy time to think up a reply that could convince herself, let alone her pen-friend. Melody looked directly into Misty's eyes.
"Misty, I know that you love Ash Ketchum. That is the only reason for the which I didn't try to get him for myself!"
Misty blushed brightly. Before she could think of an answer, the technician told them that they had finished the examination.
When the two girls and the patient's mother entered, Ash noticed that Misty was acting strangely. "Misty, is something wrong?"
"I'm fine, you... you overblown Casanova!" Misty exclaimed, before storming out of the room.
"Excuse me." Melody calmly left the room, laughing under her breath.
"But... what did I say wrong?" Ash asked, confused.
Delilah and Dr. Wiggins exchanged significant glances. The situation was very clear. "Ash, if we need to explain to you what happened, then you would not understand our explanation." the doctor said seriously.
Pikachu and Chikorita started laughing as they watched the confusion on their trainer's face.
Team Rocket Underground Base
Four kilometres north-west of Viridian City
Central Computer Room
July 25, 2063
The cleaner swept the floor buffer across the floor of the Central Computer Room of Team Rocket Base. The room was lit solely by the machine's many monitor screens. Probably, the best movement than the Security Police could do to stop the terrorist organisation - besides attacking the Central Base in Black Island - would be put this machine out of operation. Everything about the Team Rocket on Indigo Island was somewhere in that machine, a stolen Cybertronics-60 supercomputer.
For that reason, Jessie Gibson, James Morgan, Meowth and Mondo Treleaven were waiting for the old cleaner in the blue Maintenance uniform to leave the room before slipping out of their hiding place in the ventilation duct.
A combined cry of rage and pain echoed through the usually silent room. Jessie had fell over her partner-in-crime. "James! You should have caught me!" she complained, shaking the lavender-haired man by the lapels of his uniform.
"I'm sorryyyyyy..." he wailed, his eyes crossed-over.
"MEOWTH Enough already!" Meowth attacked them with Fury Swipes. That caught the two thieves' attention. After a startled moment, Jessie slapped the normal-type Pokémon over the head.
"Miss Jessie! Mr. James!" Mondo implored in a whisper. "Don't you think that we should consult the computer now?"
There was a long pause as stupid looks passed over Jessie and James' faces. They looked at each other and suddenly felt very, very stupid. "Yes, that is a good idea," Jessie said after a long, silent moment. Mondo sat down at one of the terminals and began to type quickly. Jessie and James walked over and stood, looking over the younger man's shoulders at the data scrolling meaninglessly (to them) across the monitor screen.
"Can you can access the data?" Jessie asked.
"Yes, I have access to the historical database." Their former assistant replied, while he typed in his security password ("dream_of_jessie"). "Ready! Access approved!"
"Search for all the information regarding the Twerp," she ordered. They still didn't understand why Team Rocket wanted to kill Ash! That didn't make sense....
In the field 'Search', Mondo typed "Ketchum". After some nanoseconds of processing, the machine answered:
Ketchum, Ash E.
Ketchum, Delilah K.
Ketchum, Ethan R.
"Hey! Isn't that the Twerp's mother?" James asked in surprise. "What is she doing there in the list?" James had, of course, forgotten that the screen was touch-sensitive. By touching Delilah's name, he selected her file. The computer immediately presented a series of articles. Most were dry, technical documents regarding her many feats of engineering for the Governing Council. Jessie and James' minds span as they tried to comprehend the torrent of statistics. However, there were also a series of newspaper articles in the file. The name of one of the articles got Jessie's attention: "Prodigy Girl Graduate in Celadon University" was the headline. The redheaded woman accessed the article and saw, in smaller text, the sub-heading "One of the survivors of the IndigoRail Train 177 accident".
"Delilah K. Ketchum, 15 years-old, received her PhD with honours in structural engineering from Celadon City Technical University, and also full certification as a civil engineer for her graduate thesis: 'The correction of high-amplitude harmonic vibrations in large-scale re-enforced concrete structures using active dampening methods.' Doctor Sheldon Brunel, director of the Faculty of Civil Engineering, said that the just-graduated engineer "is one of the most creative and competent students that we have ever taught!" There are rumours that Miss Ketchum has already received offers of employment from several architectural firms.
At the age of just five years, the woman who graduated today was one of only two survivors of the terrible IndigoRail 177 rail crash that killed all but two of the 127 passengers and the crew of the train, Miss Ketchum and her father, former Articuno Airlines airliner pilot Ethan R. Ketchum. Amazingly, both survived the catastrophe with only a few minor abrasions."
Jessie's head span as she considered what she had just seen. At an age when Jessie had been at Pokémon Tech and was fretting about her poor grades, Delilah Ketchum had already graduated from university?! She decided that she would worry about that later (and she would worry, too). Responding to some instinct, Jessie touched the name of Ash's grandfather.
Another series of newspaper articles appeared. Several of the reports demanded their attention: 'Hero Pilot Makes 'Impossible' Landing", "Aerial Disaster Prevented by Amazing Pilot", "Commercial Jet Pilot Stops Hijacking".
"This guy was a hero!" James commented whilst reading the archived articles. "Maybe that explains why the Twerp has got his hero complex..." He added, thinking aloud.
"That is everything very interesting, James, but that doesn't help us to discover why Team Rocket wants him Ash dead." Jessie spoke.
Mondo was looking around nervously, expecting security officers to kick down the door any moment and arrest them. "I think we should copy the files to read later," he suggested.
After 15 minutes of download, Mondo disconnected his palmtop from the mainframe. "Let's go!"
They returned to the ventilation duct. About five minutes later, a woman in a Red Rocket uniform, who had been hidden during the whole time Jessie and James had been conducting their research, left her hiding place in the shadows. Cigarette smoke escaped from her lips as they quirked up in a grim smile of triumph...
To be Continued... Chapter 13 coming soon!
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